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The Marxist True Believers never quit?

+2 votes
May 7 in Politics & Government ✌ by TheOtherTink (21,066 points)

Karl Marx foresaw everything about capitalism, says this author, even if his theories didn't work in practice.:D

I had a physics professor who correctly said if a theory doesn't work in practice, it isn't a very good theory.

4 Answers

Freeranger May 7

From a 2016 opinion piece by Louis Menand of the New Yorker, which I think is an excellent article....and the warning of what happens when you choose a group of intellectuals like the Young Hegelians and a career in Philosophy over Law.

Rooster May 7

Good question, Tink. Think you answered it yourself quite well.

I had a physics professor who correctly said if a theory doesn't work in practice, it isn't a very good theory.

Kninjanin May 8
New Marx needs.

It will take a new Euclid to square the circle.  :)

Virginia May 23

Tink! I somehow missed this Q...and I am interested...

I am reworking my long-held negative opinion of Marx, because I realize now I was just absorbing Cold War propaganda without any direct reading of Marx, and so I found your article useful, helpful.

I do think we need to take another look at Marx; NOT for the sake of promoting socialism, but the fact that his predictions on capitalism have proved so accurate. Articles like this give me some perspective without going through DAS KAPITAL which I do not want to do. The author indicates that Marx did not really say much "about exactly what it would take for communism to become reality, or how it would function." So those horrendous murderous experiments of the 20th century really went off half-cocked!

“He (Marx) shows that the source of value in capitalism is living labor. He also shows that capitalism nonetheless tends to eliminate living labor as a necessary dimension of its development,” Nesbitt says. That contradiction means capitalism is never stable, but forever shifting in and out of crises: The system depends on human labor while simultaneously eradicating it (my emphasis).

... Marx analyzed capitalism as a social system, rather than a purely economic one (my emphasis). “Humans and human relationships depend on our place within the system of capitalism itself,” says Nesbitt. “If we don’t find a place within the system as individuals and human beings then we live under exclusion.”  (And now I am wondering how much of our violence problems USA & elsewhere reflect capitalism as a failed social system.)

Long story (very long, sorry) short? I think we need to pull together all the best information we can, sit down with a clean sheet of paper and do our best to discern wholesome directions for our for example, last night I viewed for the 2nd time a documentary on Carl Jung...even took notes...because I think our economic and social systems are handicapped by poor understanding the inner workings of who we are as human beings.

Yes, Virginia, I noted exactly the same remark: "However, the politics that developed in the Soviet Union were “not part of Marx’s vision of a social structure” says Nesbitt, but “developments of Leninism and the Russian revolution.” Most of Marx’s work was focused on critiquing capitalism, and he wrote relatively little about exactly what it would take for communism to become reality, or how it would function."

That's much like a doctor saying, "Yes, we knew exactly what was wrong with the patient, but he died because we hadn't really thought much about what it would take for our cure to become a reality or how it would function. Those butchers that handled the case were not part of our vision of a cure."  Hmmm...

In fact, MANY of Marx's predictions were wrong, most notably (aside from the mass murders) that communist revolutions would take place first in the most advanced capitalist countries (which they never did), rather than in economically backward countries like Russia and China.

So I'm afraid I can't share much latter-day admiration for Marx.  Anyone can point out the problems with capitalism; finding something better is much harder, which Marx and his followers signally failed at.

I remember laughing out loud when I first encountered the term 'scientific socialism'.  "Oh, yeah?"  I thought to myself. "It's dogma!  A bunch of articles of faith."

Virginia Virginia May 23

Tink, I am guessing it was not Marx who came up with the concept of 'scientific socialism'...? Rather, it was one of the 'lesser lights' who was just filled with good ideas more than good sense?

I cannot find, in my contemplations, any way that socialism could ever work. The nearest would be if there were a way to go back to the New Deal, and find a way to freeze-dry things there, but that will never happen.

And as you know, to me capitalism is unacceptable as an economic or social system. I certainly do not claim expertise, but the folks I put confidence in, they dropped the ball BADLY so for all I know, maybe I could have done better!

I found an idea listening to Bret Weinstein, who turns out to be an evolutionary biologist (so that is naturally the light he uses to view the world...). Anyway, he suggests that we are evolutionarily programmed to exploit new spaces (like dandelions who encounter a fresh field and move in), but that we humans turn on each other for plunder when there are no more fresh fields...

So Weinstein suggests that maybe we can just get a grip! LOOK at this predatory tendency in ourselves, and say no...and then we can choose to do something  better. idk...not much sign we are able as a species to do THAT...but it's the direction I am exploring now!

Virginia, I think it was Engels that coined the 'scientific socialism' bit, so Marx was almost surely aware of it.

And yes, many life forms start elbowing each other when space becomes scarce.  One thing humans could do better is population control, but of course it's racist to point out the areas most in need of it. :O

Virginia Virginia May 23

Tink, I have seen you indicate that since capitalism is the best we have come up with so far, we just need to do our best to live with that how you feel? Do you have any ideas as to how we might move toward something better?

We DO need population control; but when some societies have accomplished that (Korea, Japan), the pundits express concern about an aging population, and how can we get the young people to have more children...

Virginia, I'm not saying we should be satisfied with capitalism in its present form.  The evolution has been slow and painful for too many, but nevertheless, it's considerably better than it was 100 years ago, and the attempted alternatives were worse, often horrifically worse.

I do not know of anything better at the moment than your suggestion that everyone should just do the right thing, and put personal greed aside.  Don't overcharge, don't gouge, don't take advantage of the helpless, be fair.

Virginia Virginia May 24

Tink, here is a concern; and I am definitely not an expert but I know from experience in other areas that there is a certain thought process I use which can turn out accurate...

It could be that capitalism is indeed, as Marx suggested, right now in the process of collapsing (at least in the USA). FDR bailed out the middle class and kept it going...but in 2008, Obama administration did not do that. Many of the "collapse" mechanisms are apparently still in place. I'm not sure you can maintain capitalism (or even a democracy) without a strong middle class.

When I was evicted in 2015, I assumed it was just one 'rogue' corporation, and that by standing up to it I had done my part. But when I began googling early 2017, huge dismaying surprise, the rogue I had encountered was systemic.

I think Bret Weinstein (Evergreen guy) saw the universities as a place to build rational process for enlightenment kinds of change...but he ran into the "snowflake mentality," PC movement and other bizarre left-wing I do have a concern about what/who will get "vomited up" if capitalism cannot make its corrections timely...

I do think we will eventually do the "right things" you mention, but can we do it in time? Can we do again the enlightenment process by which USA Founding Fathers engendered a remarkable democracy? Socialism I cannot find the answer there...although more worker-owned co-ops, on the order of Mondragon, will prolly help...but humankind needs immense space for individual innovation creativity...

N'Kay, 8 AM here on the raincoast, and you just got the whole morning lecture, I am worried...<3

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